Daddy Drama

Daddy Drama

As queers,
we’re expert at redefining our identities. Lately, as
Kim and I have been moving closer to our baby
bliss, I’ve been contemplating how much our
parents form our identities. In the twisty road from
adolescent to adult, with all the thousands of big and
little moments piled up, how much do our parents
really shape who we are?

These questions
bubbled up when Kim and I decided to learn more about our
potential donors. We definitely wanted only donors who were
willing to be known when the child reached 18, but
beyond that, we had dozens of questions to obsess over
before we settled on our final choice. To help decide,
we purchased the long profiles and childhood photos of our
top picks. I had this idea that reading their
responses and seeing their photos would somehow act as
a seminal force that would reveal which
donor was “our donor.” No such luck.

I searched the
faces of these 2- and 3-year-old boys for some glimmer of
fate in their eyes, behind their smiles, anywhere. I
expected a lightning bolt of knowing to hit me, the
same way it did the first moment I saw Kim as a
stranger years ago. I expected a spiritual "a-ha!" moment
that said “This is the one you’ve been
searching for…this is your future.”
Instead, I studied photographs of some rather unremarkable
children and felt little more than a mixture of ambivalence
and uncertainty. They were all strangers to me.

Then the rational
part of my brain took over. Perhaps Mr. Right would
reveal himself through the words of these strangers instead
of their images. So I scanned the long profiles for
the same sense of recognition that eluded me earlier.
I reviewed their medical histories, family structures,
and hobbies, returning again and again to the
proverbial question “Why did you decide to
become a donor?”

As much as I
hoped to find some transcendent reply that would bond me to
one over another, I didn’t. Sure, there was one guy
who voted himself out with his two-word retort
claiming “personal satisfaction” as a motive.
A couple donors spoke of their desires to bring the
joy of family to others less fortunate, but I still
felt unsure. That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t
looking for a donor; I was screening candidates for the best
father!

These guys
aren’t applying to become dads; they’re simply
being paid for a service, a biological process, that
for them ceases when they walk out of the clinic
doors. They have no legal, financial, or personal role in
the process. Kim and I will be the parents of our new child,
not any of the donors. So why subject ourselves to the
agony of choosing the right donor when there is no
such thing?

I’ve sat
on this column for the past week wondering how I would tie
my feelings up. I hoped I'd settle into some profound
understanding about how an absent biological parent
forms our identities, but I haven’t. The fact
is that our child will have big questions. Sure, he or
she will have two loving parents dedicated to
their happiness, but that doesn’t mean they
won’t wonder about their father. So I will keep the
baby photo and 15-page profile we’ve agonized
over because one day it will be time to pass it along
to another pair of curious eyes. Whether it’s from
that picture or some hero constructed in the trees of
their imagination, our child will start to fashion
their own sense of identity. And perhaps some day a
certain stranger might just get a surprise call from an
18-year-old kid with as many questions as we had two
decades before.

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